asphalt tar on face

Apple Bill

Forum Crew Member
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Ran a call while on FD shift, 35yom, industrial accident, hot (250-300F) asphalt tar blew up in pt's face. Approx 80% facial coverage including left eye and up nostrils.
We're first on scene, pt is at an outdoor eye flush station running water over his face. Tar has hardened on the exterior but still hot. Pt states water helps relieve pain. Unk amount of tar in left eye, full coverage over eye from forehead to jaw.
Patent airway, but we were concerned about possible swelling from trauma due to inhaled tar. Standing manual BP 178/104, pulse 96, no pulse ox since we were outside and it was 19F. Once warmed in ambulance, SpO2 99%, supine BP 142/102 from LifePak12. Pt was AOx4. No previous medical or allergies.

The situation as-is for us as fire was simple, make sure airway is patent and pt is stable until EMS arrives. Kept warm as best as possible while pt cooled face with water.
We were 30 min from nearest burn center, and with the concern of inhaled hot tar, EMS made the call to air evac pt.

The question that arose was what if the pt had not cooled the tar with water prior to arrival? What would have been the best way to handle that?
 

teedubbyaw

Forum Deputy Chief
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Absolutely would have doused him in water as soon as I could. Preferably in the ambulance, since it's below freezing, but I'm not going to waste time.

That really sucks, by the way. Poor dude.
 

Apple Bill

Forum Crew Member
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I'm glad he was already doing it, I'm not sure I'd have thought to do it since most burns are kept dry.

Yeah, he's in for a rough time. I'm worried about his eye most of all.
 

DesertMedic66

Forum Troll
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One of the first steps is to stop the burning process.
 

Anjel

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JPINFV

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http://cjem-online.ca/v15/n5/p307

Like absorbs like, so you want to use a primarily inorganic substance to remove tar. Simple table butter has been used in the past for tar burns as a removal agent.
 

broken stretcher

Forum Crew Member
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My father is a retired construction truck driver... used to do paving. When tar would get stuck in the back of the dump trucks, they would often douse the back of the truck in diesel fuel. The article says that would cause "systemic toxic effects from absorption". Diesel was my first thought but apparently this study says no...
 

JPINFV

Gadfly
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Let's be realistic, please. We only stock margarin on the ambulance.
Ok, what I'm going to need you to do is go down to the cafeteria and pick up 20 of those little squares of butter and bring them back up.
 

Brandon O

Puzzled by facies
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How about... soap?
 

Handsome Robb

Youngin'
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Just throw some feathers at him.
 

Trek7553

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That article seemed to imply that Neosporin is effective for removing tar. Would it be reasonable to apply Neosporin to remove the tar?
 

samiam

Amazing Member
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That article seemed to imply that Neosporin is effective for removing tar. Would it be reasonable to apply Neosporin to remove the tar?
It specifically is talking about neosporin CREAM not the antibiotic stuff we put on cuts/scrapes. It is a little different chemically.

If it was me personally, I would grab a bottle of tween (Basically frangrance free everything free) detergent. I use it a lot in the lab and I think there are sterile preparations available. It is miscible in water and it dont know what other stuff the neosporin has that might be getting into the open wound. That being said as the article says, It seems to be effective and clearly does less harm then peeling it off.
 
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